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Bursting the Bubbles

The legendary winemaking monk Dom Perignon is often credited with inventing Champagne. Actually, he battled bubbles most of his life. Sparkling wines weren’t always magical in Champagne, and into the 17th century, winemakers there were dumbfounded why some wines were fizzy. What happened was that cold Champagne winters sometimes made yeasts go dormant before all the sugar was converted to alcohol. But winemakers thought the wines were “done”, and put them into bottles. (Reminder: it wasn’t until the mid-1800s that Louis Pasteur figured out that yeasts cause fermentation.) Then in spring, the warmed yeasts went back to gobbling sugar. The byproduct CO², now in corked bottles, was trapped and created bubbles. Our good monk Perignon worked for years to remove the fizz, though by the late 1600s he was among the winemakers who accepted the bubbles which actually helped Champagne taste better.

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